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Twitter Grapples With Harassment By Expanding Mute Filters

Twitter announced that it's expanding mute filters to notifications in an attempt to help curb abuse on its platform.

The social media site previously allowed its users to "mute" tweets from people with whom they didn't want to interact. Now it's allowing users to select keywords, phrases, and entire conversations about which they prefer not to be notified. The result: Twitter will no longer send push notifications, emails, or text messages when abusers tweet at their intended victims, which means the company will make it harder for harassment to happen on its platform.

This update is part of a broader attempt by Twitter to grapple with some of its most toxic users. The company also said that it has made it easier for users to report abusive tweets, retrained its support staff to help them recognize harassment, and improved the internal tools used to respond to these complaints. All together, these changes represent Twitter's continued efforts to make its platform seem more welcoming to users who fear harassment.

The company knows it hasn't always done a good job in that regard. Here's what it said in the announcement:

Because Twitter happens in public and in real-time, we’ve had some challenges keeping up with and curbing abusive conduct. We took a step back to reset and take a new approach, find and focus on the most critical needs, and rapidly improve. There are three areas we’re focused on, and happy to announce progress around today: controls, reporting, and enforcement.

These changes come hot on the heels of Twitter announcing that it has big changes planned for its service. The company said that it had new safety features planned for November and, well, here we are. Some of the other changes--like shuttering Vine, the six-second video service--have also come to fruition. But others, like updating the social network to be more approachable to new users, have yet to make it out of the company's development lab.

Here's Twitter's overview for the expanded mute filters:

Muting is case-insensitive. For example:If you add “CATS” to your mute list, any mention of “cats” will be muted from your notifications.You can include punctuation within a word or phrase when muting. Punctuation at the end of a word or phrase is not necessary.Muting a word will mute both the word itself and its hashtag. For example:If you mute “unicorn”, both “unicorn” and “#unicorn” will be muted from your notifications.To mute Tweet notifications that mention a particular account, you must include the @ sign before the name. Doing this will mute Tweet notifications that mention that account, but won’t mute notifications from the account itself. Learn about how to mute accounts here. Words, phrases, usernames, emojis, and hashtags up to 140 characters can be muted.Muting is possible across all Twitter-supported languages.Muting cannot be set for a particular time period. Words and phrases will remain muted until manually deleted from your settings.You can view a list of your muted words (and unmute them) in your settings.

People can use these new mute filters via Twitter's apps for Android and iOS as well as the service's website. It's not clear when the feature will be available to all users on all platforms, however, because at the time of writing I was unable to use mute filters via the Twitter website. But chances are good that the feature is rolling out at different times around the world, so don't be surprised if it suddenly appears in your Twitter client of choice.

  • alextheblue
    Muting is fine since it's done by the users themselves and only affects what the user themselves sees.

    This update is part of a broader attempt by Twitter to grapple with some of its most toxic users. The company also said that it has made it easier for users to report abusive tweets, retrained its support staff to help them recognize harassment, and improved the internal tools used to respond to these complaints. All together, these changes represent Twitter's continued efforts to make its platform seem more welcoming to users who fear harassment.
    Some of twitter's other moves to ban people selectively? Often suspect. They'll ban one user for "offensive behavior" while they let others slide. Complete lack of transparency and consistency, different metrics for different users. Justice is not blind, by any stretch. They're a private firm so they can do what they want. Even so, I can't help but think the Internet is gradually getting replaced by the Coddlenet. A lot of people seem to want a safe space and a binky. Whoops, was that offensive?
    Reply
  • anbello262
    Well, I pretty much think that "If you believe twitter is oppressive, then just dont use it". I don't think it's part of a big movement towards censoring the internet. And it is clear that most people would rather have their "safe space" (tumblr?) than freedom of expression, so I think it's logical (as a business model) to offer just that.

    I would be worried if there was amovement towards shutting down 'total freedom of expression' sites, but so far we still have the choice.
    Reply
  • HaB1971
    Steve Shives is going to love this... if his block bot has not already blocked you he can add the word 'disagree' to the mute filter and continue his echo chamber... This system will be abused and people muted for nothing more that stated opinion or even facts.
    Reply
  • anbello262
    But it's only muted for one user (the blocker).
    You can choose what to see in facebook already, so what's the issue with this?
    Reply